If you have been following the story of gay Mississippi teen Constance McMillen and her fight to take the date of her choice (in the outfit of her choice) to her prom in Fulton Miss., you know that McMillen and the Itawamba County School District went to court this week. Federal court Judge Glen H. Davidson heard the arguments by the high school which cancelled the prom because of McMillen's request to attend with her girlfriend. The Mississippi ACLU, representing McMillen, argued that the district's refusal to allow McMillen to attend the prom, and their decision to cancel the dance altogether, was a violation of the student's constitutional rights. On Tuesday, the judge agreed.
According to MSNBC, Judge Davidson did not, however, grant the ACLU's request for an injunction that would have had the effect of forcing the school to sponsor the prom as originally planned. According to local newspaper The Clarion Ledger, the judge wrote that, "requiring defendants to step back into a sponsorship role at this late date would only confuse and confound the community on the issue." Parents in the area have decided to sponsor a private prom instead, which McMillen is considering attending. "If I feel like I will be welcome to go, I want to go," she said.
Despite the denial of the injunction, the Ledger writes the ACLU counts the judge's ruling as a victory. In his order Judge Davidson agreed that the school's actions violated McMillen's rights. Judge Davidson's order stated, "The court finds this expression and communication of her viewpoint is the type of speech that falls squarely within the purview of the First Amendment."
MSNBC reports the Itawamba school district, has also put a brave face on the ruling. They too claim victory since the judge has decided to allow the case to go to trial. "What we're looking at now is the fact that the case is still on the docket for a trial on the merits," said Ben Griffith, the school district's attorney.
For McMillen's part, she is making the rounds of the talks shows to discuss her situation, so may not have time to go tux shopping before the prom. But she will, no doubt, keep up on her schoolwork to maintain her 3.8 GPA, since receiving a $30,000 college scholarship from Ellen DeGeneres and digital media co. Tonic.
- Both sides claim win in Mississippi lesbian teen's prom lawsuit (The Clarion Ledger)
- Judge: School violated rights of gay student (AP, MSNBC)
- Gay and Lesbian Rights / Sexual Orientation Discrimination (FindLaw)
- Mississippi School's Prom Cancelled over Gay Date (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)